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Gibraltar News

by Tristan Cano |  Published: Apr 01, 2008

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Victor Chandler Cuts Gibraltar Staff by 10 Percent
Victor Chandler International (VCI) announced in January this year it would be cutting a total of 30 jobs during the early months of 2008. The gaming firm set up shop in Gibraltar in 1999 but has recently expanded beyond sports betting to offer poker and casino services to its clients worldwide. However, despite turning over in excess of £1 billion last year, according to VCI's management, they will not be taking any chances in 2008.

VCI, which focuses its business on the UK, Europe, and the Far East, has suffered far less than its competitors who were exposed to the U.S betting market. By streamlining their Gibraltar operation, VCI, which currently employs around 300 staff here, hopes to remains efficient and competitive during what VCI chief executive Michael Carlton describes as a "demanding new year". He went on to say that this period of consolidation for the firm will allow them to focus on its core clients and areas.

But according to employees of the firm, culls of this nature have been relatively commonplace over the last few years with redundancy packages being offered to staff almost on a yearly basis. The period of consultation required by Gibraltar law is always complied with and with voluntary redundancies being encouraged, many employees are happy to accept the packages VCI offers. However in the past there have been questions asked about their policy of re-advertising jobs just a few months after making those roles redundant. Less experienced staff are then hired to fill these roles, but are done so on lower wages than those who lost their jobs in the first place.

While staff turnover at VCI is still low in comparison to some other Gibraltar-based gaming firms, many have felt hard done by its staff reduction policies. Add to this the uncertainty and disruption caused by reductions of this nature and it could be argued that while keeping costs to a minimum they may also impact negatively upon the continuity of the firm's operations. On the other hand it may be that by clearing the "dead wood" and at the same time keeping their existing staff constantly on their toes provides the necessary motivation to get the best out of their employees on a day-to-day basis.

Easyjet Now Running the Gibraltar/Gatwick Route
Easyjet's acquisition of British Airways franchisee GB Airways for £103.5 million in late 2007 will directly impact upon the availability of flights in and out of Gibraltar. This news evoked a mixed response from the employees of Gibraltar-based gaming firms, many of whom have homes and families in the UK and thus rely on a regular service on the existing Gibraltar to London flight route.

Promises of a new low-cost airline based out of Gibraltar have thus far failed to materialise, and whilst "FlyGib" seems more like "pie in the sky," GB Airways has faithfully serviced the local gaming community by operating a twice-daily flight to London. Its successor Easyjet has pledged to maintain the frequency of its service (at least until the winter season) however many have doubted whether they will continue operating so regular a service beyond that. A reduction in the amount of weekly flights to London would not only affect employees of gaming firms but also the firms themselves, many who rely on regular transits between their Gibraltar and London offices.

At present there are two other airlines with regular scheduled flights to the Rock. Monarch Airlines operates four times a week to London-Luton and Iberia Airlines which last year controversially inaugurated its daily schedule to Madrid before having to reduce its flight frequency due to a lack of demand. While there are constant reports in the Spanish and UK press about various airlines keen to add Gibraltar to their schedule, these rumours have so far proven to be unsubstantiated.

There is no doubt that many on the Rock will welcome Easyjet with open arms. Since the service will be "no-frills," the price of flying out of Gibraltar should decrease. In the words of one gaming company employee, "It's ideal. If flights are cheaper, I'll be able to visit my family and friends in England more often."

There is also the hope that with the proposed multi-million pound extension to Gibraltar's airport likely to be completed over the next few years, the Luton-based airline will also add more routes from the Rock. This will not only give people based in Gibraltar greater travel options, but also makes great economic sense in that it will hopefully attract more foreign-based operations to the Rock.

Tristan Cano lives and writes about the gaming industry in Gibraltar.